Nature park Stranja: General information
If you head for the southeastern part of Bulgaria, to the town of Malko Tarnovo or along the sea shore to the towns of Ahtopol and Sinemoretz soon you will fall in the caressing arms of the wide spread mountain chain of Strandja. An inseparable part of Strandja is the nature park which is named after the mountain. The park was established in 1995, covers a territory of 1 116 km2 and has a sea outlet situated between the town of Tzarevo and the village of Rezovo.
Strandja is a low mountain with deeply indented landscape. Its geographic position – at the border of Europe, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean – forms its warmer and milder climate compared to the other mountain chains in Bulgaria. The specific climate has a healing effect and is favourable for the tourists that are visiting the region. On the territory of the park there are two climate resorts – Ahtopol and Malko Tarnovo.
Fascinating are the valleys of Veleka and Rezvaja rivers, meandering in a picturesque way through the park. Early in a misty morning from the mountain peaks the river valleys look like as if the sea has flooded the mountain. Near the village of Mladezko springs the river with the same name and its water has been declared a natural landmark. Many people believe that the water heals cardio-vascular and neurological diseases.
The proximity of Strandja Mountain to the Black and Marmara Sea and its mild and humid climate determine its unique natural characteristics. Almost 80% of park’s territory is covered with forests, attractive with their quietness and silence. The variety of flora is impressing. Besides the Strandjan periwinkle, attractive species are also Strandjian mezereon, Caucasian primrose, scarlet firethorn, holy, Strandjian oak, Strandjian whortleberry, laurel cherry etc. The presence of unique plant species lends exotic charm to Strandja Mountain and makes it a natural botanic garden.
The virgin nature, the unique mixture of maritime and mountain landscape and the interesting cultural and historic landscape are favourable for development of eco and cultural tourism, recreation and other leisure time activities. Numerous unique cultural monuments can be observed at the territory of Nature Park Strandhja. The traditional styles of cult buildings are presented by the Orthodox temples “Uspenie Bogorodichno” in the town of Malko Tarnovo, “St.St. Kiril and Metodius” in the village of Kosti, “St. Dimitar” – in the village of Brashljan as well as by numerous chapels scattered all over the mountain, all of which built near a healing spring (ajazmo). The territory of the park is strewn with numerous archeological objects, which fascinate with their mysticism and majesty. Thousands of years Strandhja Mountain was the kingdom of the ancient Thracian culture. Scattered all over the territory of the mountain, the ancient beehive tombs, dolmens, sacrificial altar, slab stones and statues are speechless witnesses of the ancient Thracian glory. The most spectacular of all of them is the megalith consecrated ground in the vicinity of Mishkova niva, known as the Temple of God Dionysus. In the village of Balgari can be seen the unique “nestinary” rite. It takes place every year on the St. Konstantin and Helena’s day (3rd June), considered to be patron and patroness of the nestinars. Miraculously, time has not changed much this intoxicating dance on live coals, which comes from the ancient Thracian times. The village of Brashljan has been declared a historic and architectural reserve with authentic Strandjan houses built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
During the centuries the mountain was called with different names – Mons Asticus, Astisteiska Mountain, Hemimont. Today it is considered that the name Strandhja comes from the proto-Bulgarian stem “Stran”, which means closed, remote and at the same time strange and mystical. Such is the world of Strandhja Mountain – archaic, having preserved unique traditions and rites.
Nowadays the local population is motivated to develop alternative forms of tourism in their villages. The coziness of the typical Stranhjan houses, opened for the visitor with warmth and hospitality, is quite healing. If one decides to escape from the boredom of everyday life and the hectic rhythm of living, Strandhja Mountain is the direction that one should head for. “Welcome” will say the people in Strandhja. One should not miss to enjoy the real sea of forests and verdure, where the three wonders of the nature live in harmony – sea, sun and mountain. Strandhja Mountain has the power to bring back the happiness derived from the simple things in life and bestow the visitors with moments of enlightenment.